Mills Liberty Bell

The Mills Novelty Company was one of the largest manufacturers of coin operated slot machines in the world. They also manufactured vending machines, jukeboxes etc. They operated there business from US between 1930 and 1905. The products manufactured by this company include Mills Violano Virtuoso and the predecessors of it. It can play a piano and a violin automatically. The company's name was changed into Mills Industries in the year of 1944. Bell-O-Matic Corporation owned the slot machine unit of this company. In 1930, Mills Automatic Merchandising Corporation installed vending machines.


Mortimer Birdsul Mills founded this company in the year of 1880 and then manufactured machines that are operated by coins. He had 13 children. The Mills brothers raised the company and they started to live in Oak Park, Illinois till 1930s. Herbert Mills who was the older son of Mortimer Birdsul Mills died and he left his eight children and wife. Then Bert E. Mills and Frank W. Mills supervised the business. They had huge patents. The original patent files of Violano still exist and readers can get it if they do research.


Mortimer Birdsul Mills was allowed by US government to improve the coin operated vending machine in 1891. Purchasers were quite impressed with the improvements. Mortimer Birdsul Mills developed a vending company of cigar with the same theory as coin vending machine in between 1891 and 1895. The company promoted that they were established in 1889 just before 2 years that date of patent by H. S Mills.

In the year of 1897, this company manufactured Mills Owl. It was a slot machine with automatically upright cabinet. It was a big achievement of the company.

Bert Mills went to work in 1906 to the Mills Company after leaving school. He also established a new company after few years. This company developed the first coffee vending machine.

In the year of 1926, their company left Green Street and got a new address Fullerton Avenue, 4100 Chicago. The area of the company was 375000 square feet. It was one of the few firms that had manufactured gambling as well as vending machines.

After May 1935, 4 sons of Herbert Stephen Mills run the company. The wealth of the family includes a private yacht. The TJM Corporation was managed by John Mills and Tony Mills but they failed to compete with other companies like Bally. The company was closed in 1980.

2009 Update:

Tony Mills is no longer alive. He passed away in June 6 in the year of 2009.He was in Las Vegas for past 42 years. He always liked to share his family and personal experiences in forms of stories.

"The Mills Novelty Company" still exists today. This company deals with antique Mills Violano instruments and they manufacture a digital system operated by computer for the Piano. They also produce digital player systems.

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